NOTEWORTHY

If Gutenberg invented the Internet  What would our world be like if electronic media had been invented before printing? Just picture it for a moment. All of us are happily tapping away on our computers when a new technology suddenly debuts—ink on paper! How would the tweets and blogs and links read? “Ink on paper is wireless and requires no electricity or power source!” “It’s completely democratic—everyone sees exactly the same font and the same colors, in the same size and format!” “It’s remarkably portable, sensuously tactile, and photos reproduce beautifully. You can even add scents to the ink and smell what you read!”

This fantasy reminds me that we’ve come a long way in the information technology revolution. The advantages to online information are enormous, but have we lost anything along the way? I thought about this recently when I was looking through the book Outskirts, a photographic essay by Todd Hido. The book is an extra-large 12″x18″ format. There is one photo per page, and each photo is reproduced with such gorgeous detail that the effect is almost magical. I realized that the extraordinary power of these photos would be lost on my laptop monitor. This is not the only case where print still outperforms the screen. For example, sometimes it’s faster and easier to flip through the pages of a printed book for information than it is to click through the same book online. Even in the middle of the technology revolution, Gutenberg’s idea still has its place.

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